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Army Secretary John McHugh, left, speaks Thursday with ISAF Regional Command-South commander, Maj. Gen. James Terry while visiting Forward Operating Base Pasab.
Army Secretary John McHugh, left, speaks Thursday with ISAF Regional Command-South commander, Maj. Gen. James Terry while visiting Forward Operating Base Pasab. (Laura Rauch/Stars and Stripes)
Army Secretary John McHugh, left, speaks Thursday with ISAF Regional Command-South commander, Maj. Gen. James Terry while visiting Forward Operating Base Pasab.
Army Secretary John McHugh, left, speaks Thursday with ISAF Regional Command-South commander, Maj. Gen. James Terry while visiting Forward Operating Base Pasab. (Laura Rauch/Stars and Stripes)
Army Secretary John McHugh, left, is escorted by Col. Patrick Frank, center right, as he arrives at Forward Operating Base Pasab in Afghanistan on Thursday. Also with him is Afghan Lt. Col. Abdul-Raheem, Sgt Maj. James Carabello, and ISAF Regional Command-South commander, Maj. Gen. James Terry, right.
Army Secretary John McHugh, left, is escorted by Col. Patrick Frank, center right, as he arrives at Forward Operating Base Pasab in Afghanistan on Thursday. Also with him is Afghan Lt. Col. Abdul-Raheem, Sgt Maj. James Carabello, and ISAF Regional Command-South commander, Maj. Gen. James Terry, right. (Laura Rauch/Stars and Stripes)
Army Secretary John McHugh shakes hands with a tactical explosive detection dog handler while visiting Forward Operating Base Pasab in Afghanistan on Thursday.
Army Secretary John McHugh shakes hands with a tactical explosive detection dog handler while visiting Forward Operating Base Pasab in Afghanistan on Thursday. (Laura Rauch/Stars and Stripes)
Army Secretary John McHugh, left, and Maj. Gen. James Terry, the ISAF Regional Command-South commander, arrive at Forward Operating Base Pasab in Afghanistan on Thursday.
Army Secretary John McHugh, left, and Maj. Gen. James Terry, the ISAF Regional Command-South commander, arrive at Forward Operating Base Pasab in Afghanistan on Thursday. (Laura Rauch/Stars and Stripes)
Army Secretary John McHugh visits Forward Operating Base Pasab with Col. Patrick Frank, right, and Afghan Lt. Col. Abdul-Raheem on Thursday.
Army Secretary John McHugh visits Forward Operating Base Pasab with Col. Patrick Frank, right, and Afghan Lt. Col. Abdul-Raheem on Thursday. (Laura Rauch/Stars and Stripes)

UPDATED MAY 5, 3:48 P.M.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan -- Army Secretary John McHugh visited the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Task Force Spartan) in the Kandahar province on Thursday, where he met with U.S. and Afghan regional commanders on the final leg of a three-day reconnaissance trip to Afghanistan.

Though the secretary’s long-scheduled visit came in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, he was quick to note that it was a symbolic victory and that a fight was still ahead.

“I don’t think, for the troops out here, it changes things,” McHugh said. “It’s a morale booster, particularly for the country. This is a man who killed thousands of Americans, and to bring him to justice is a good day, whether you’re in uniform or otherwise.”

McHugh arrived by Black Hawk helicopter and attended a briefing with Brigade Combat Team commander Col. Patrick Frank before touring the base and meeting with troops.

Frank discussed both the successes and long-term challenges of Task Force Spartan’s mission to push the Taliban-led insurgency from the Arghandab River south, into the Rigestan Desert.

Frank also discussed recent counterinsurgency efforts including the re-opening of the Pir Mohammed School near Kandahar, the troubled past for which received national attention last year after a report by Time magazine.

“If someone is confident enough to send their kids to school, you know the environment is dramatically improving,” Frank said earlier this week.

The meeting wrapped with a discussion of weapons systems and offensive measures.

“It’s a question of math,” said McHugh following the briefing and referring to the defense budget, “we want to give you what want, you’ve earned what you want.”

McHugh is scheduled to testify before the Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee later this month.

McHugh had visited Kabul and Bagram earlier this week. The secretary is a former congressman from New York’s 23rd district, home to the division’s Fort Drum.

The 10th Mountain Division took over operations of FOB Pasab from the 101st Airborne Division in mid-April.

rauchl@estripes.osd.mil

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